Vietnamese female, 28, Auckland

I studied in Dunedin at Otago University after I finished high school. I spent every Summer returning home to Auckland and working casual Christmas jobs to save up for the coming year of study and to spend time with my family.

When I was 19, I fell in love with my first girlfriend. 2 years later she broke up with me right after my final exam of the year. I was devastated and could barely climb onto the plane back to Auckland. I was distraught and slipped into depression. I knew that Mum would see through my attempts to hide my heartache but I also knew that telling her about my relationship with destroy the fragile one I had with her. I found myself crying myself miserably lurking around home and barely left the house except to go to work. She would ask me what was going on and I wouldn’t be able to give her an answer, choosing to shrug her off instead. We grew further and further apart because I could not be honest with her about the grief I was experiencing. That distance between us has never been fixed.

To this day I still consider coming out to my parents as being the scariest thing I could imagine doing. I just don’t know how our small community would take it and I never want to have them face the shame of being accused of raising their daughter the wrong way. It brings me great feelings of guilt whenever I think about the consequences of being found out. My older sister and a cousin in Australia are the only ones in the family that knows my secret. While they tease about me having to take this to the grave, I know that they also believe that might just be the way things will have to be.